Home Tags Sociology


Why Study Sociology with a Language at LSE?

The London School of Economics and Political Science, commonly known as LSE, with a QS ranking of no 3 in social science, is undoubtfully one of the most prestigious institutions to study sociology. As a current LSE student, I’d like to share some of my experiences studying for BSc Language, Culture and Society – a joint degree in sociology and language & literature studies.

The well-equipped Academic Faculty

One of the most enticing reasons to study at LSE is the world-leading academic team that you get to work with. Taking the department of sociology, for example, you will have the opportunity to discuss your weekly reading materials with the authors themselves as they are, indeed, the very professors conducting your lectures. You could schedule office hours and discuss any confusion you have with the specific content you are having difficulties grasping or just express your deep sense of admiration. For language courses, many coursebooks are also composed by the language conductors from the language centre, who will ensure these course materials will be utilised to their maximum extent.

The Omni-encompassing course syllabus

From literature to intercultural communication and management; from specialised sociology to social science-focused language course; the Language, Culture and Society syllabus is designed to be cross-disciplinary, which encapsulates multiple correlating fields to nurture holistically developed intellectuals. Students could either opt for a specialised trajectory or have a glimpse of a wide variety of courses to discover their field of interest. Joint honour is no stranger at LSE, yet seldom are there such inclusive degrees that truly enable students to tailor their own study outcomes. For instance, if a student would like to pursue a career in politics, they could opt for Political sociology with Comparative literature & 20th-century political history, along with a politically focused dissertation in their target language. 

Equipped student service

LSE offers a wide range of student services, ranging from a career centre that offers practice interviews and personal consultant services; to departmental reading groups and regular gathering socials; to travel insurance for personal or school trips. The well-equipped student service establishes a tight-knit between the student bodies and the institution, students can find support for almost all aspects relating to their lives at LSE. You will always find there someone professional to talk to for any query you have regarding your studies or your personal well-being.

Who is Language, Culture & Society for?

Despite the preceding vintages of the program, it is, however, not for everyone. Firstly, this is a pure essay-based liberal art program, thus it does not entail any quantitative element at all. If you long to acquire any quantitative skills, it is probably best to give Language, Culture and Society a second thought. With pure Sociology, you will have an outside module that grants you the autonomy to choose a range of optional courses from another department. In addition, if you intend to study a language during your time at university, LSE does offer non-degree language courses you can take each week. Plus, you will also have the option to add the language course to your degree to form a joint degree such as Sociology with French, and International Relations with Spanish.

Yifei is a second-year Language, Culture and Society student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He deduces various social theories to reflect upon student experiences in higher education institutions. He writes in English, Chinese and French.

How to Use ‘dispositions’ to Your Advantage at University or College

Going to university or college? Here’s how to use Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ to your social advantage.

You might find it challenging to ‘fit in’ when attending university for the first time – withholding a different social background, or having a different religious belief to everyone else; we call these ‘dispositions’. Renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu deduced a concept called ‘habitus’; effectively deploying this could be helpful to preclude you from becoming an outlander. 

What is a ‘habitus’?

Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus‘ means “the systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures” (Outline of a theory of practice, 1977). In simple words, this means a system that coaches you to move about in the world so that you can succeed in your goals. Don’t let the fancy-sounding jargon put you off, in fact, you might have already been deploying various ‘habitus’ yourself. For instance, think about how to ask your parents for something you want – a phone for example; you might shift to a more sincere tone, try to present yourself as worthy of the phone by quoting your excellent grade or altering your posture to a more attentive one.

This is, in fact, ‘toning’ your habitus to allow you to achieve your goal of attaining the phone. In college, you need to learn to rapidly tone your habitus if you want to make new friends. Some students are really good at ‘toning’ their habitus which means they are better at developing different modes of engagement with different people they talk to. They make friends quicker, integrate into the new environment more smoothly and are less likely to indulge in the constant sense of homesickness.

How to ‘tone’ your habitus

So how do you develop or improve this ability to ‘tone’ your habitus? One of the most effective ways is to actively improve your personal skillset, such as partaking in a painting lesson, joining the debate club or trying out a sport. On the other hand, they can also be as small as learning a new joke, a new way to rephrase your words or even a new body language. Reflect upon yourself, think about what you can do to make yourself feel less detached from the group and what skills you need to make yourself feel more comfortable in this new environment.

You can also use your habitus to alleviate the sense of disposition people around you might experience. For instance, when interacting with a gender-nonconforming person, keep vigilant of the pronoun you use. When interacting with someone hard of hearing, always ensure to deliberate yourself. Effectively understanding and utilising this concept will not only benefit yourself, but it could also help others, which is a great way to establish a new friendship.

One thing to take notice of…

It is important to note that it is not always necessary to tone your habitus. You might experience some maladjustments when you find a university’s institutional habitus and your personal habitus contradicting. It is indeed important to keep an open mind and make constant adaptations or dwell efforts in adjusting your personal habitus; however, that is not always the case. For example, you may disagree with certain school rules, if you feel they are in opposition to your value or personal belief, ask others for their opinions, if they feel the same, make collective actions to get these rules changed.

Universities are places to ignite changes and improvements and students are usually at the centre of these changes. HE listens to student voices, if you feel you have something to say, don’t be afraid to speak up to prevent future students from being affected by these misalignments.

Huge thanks to Yifei for this article. Yifei is a second-year Language, Culture and Society student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He deduces various social theories to reflect upon student experiences in higher education institutions. He writes in English, Chinese and French.

21st Century Sociology

This article takes a look into what the study of sociology involves and why it’s important to study it at university or college. “As societies become ever more globalised and complex the need for sociologists is becoming more vital” Anthony Elliott, Chair of Sociology at Flinders University, Australia explains.

What is sociology?

Sociology, it is thought by many, is about the study of society. Just as political scientists study power, and economists study finance, so sociologists study society. Correct? Not quite. Sociology is certainly about the study of large-scale social institutions, ranging all the way from business enterprises and companies to multinational corporations such as BP and global governance forums such as the United Nations.

However, it is also the study of everyday, ordinary life. In this connection, sociologists study identity and the self; sexuality and intimacy; the body and gender; as well as family relationships, youth and popular culture.

“Sociology has become the pre-eminent social science to provide fresh thinking about a whole range of vital issues affecting the public sphere” Sociology’s heyday, according to some, was the 1960s when the discipline was associated with political radicalism. Since that period, sociology went through a period of decline in the 1980s.

Sociology in the twenty-first century

Now, in these early years of the twenty-first century, it has re-emerged in universities and public political life more vibrantly than ever before.

In particular, sociology has become the pre-eminent social science to provide fresh thinking about a whole range of vital issues affecting the public sphere. Of all the social sciences, sociology has contributed the most novel accounts of the transformed character and dynamics of everyday life in the 21st century. Sociological authors have pioneered discussions of, amongst others, globalisation, postmodernism, the information society, risk, gender and sexuality, and the changing nature of politics.

World-renowned sociology departments that specialise in contributions to public life, politics and social policy include the London School of Economics’ Sociology Department and the Department of Sociology at Flinders University, Australia.

This article was written by Anthony Elliott, Chair of Sociology at Flinders University, Australia.